December 3, 2014

The Xinhua news agency reports that a giant panda at a western Japan zoo has given birth to twin cubs.

The mother, Rauhin, went into labor on Tuesday afternoon at the Adventure World theme park in the city of Shirahama. Both of the newborn cubs are female and have yet to be named.

Rauhin, who is 14 years old, was also born at Adventure World. She has given birth to seven panda cubs. Meghan DeMaria

October 28, 2014

Here's Tuco, the most adorable future police dog named after a fictional drug kingpin you will ever see.

All it took was a photo of a German Shepherd puppy in an oversized bulletproof vest to bring the internet together. Once the picture of 9-week-old Tuco hit the web, it was shared on social media and websites around the world, bringing international attention to Massachusetts Vest-A-Dog, a nonprofit that donates bulletproof vests to police dogs. The photo was used to promote a calendar featuring portraits of other canine units, with proceeds going towards buying the vests.

Tuco (named after the Mexican drug kingpin on Breaking Bad) is owned by dog handler Troy Caisey, a 22-year veteran of the Boston Police Department who has trained more than 350 dogs. Caisey is doing basic foundation work with Tuco, and if he thinks the puppy can keep up as a member of the K9 unit, he'll start formal training when Tuco is old enough. Catherine Garcia

September 6, 2014

Sometimes, you just need to take a break from the hard news and look at pictures of adorable, cuddly animals.

The Philadelphia Zoo has you covered: Four baby lion cubs made their public debut on Friday, and the resulting photos are pretty darn cute. Check out the zoo's newest residents, along with mom Tajiri, below. --Sarah Eberspacher

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

August 27, 2014

Three lion cubs made their debut at the Johannesburg Zoo on Wednesday, and it's clear they love to play.

The lions include the male Letaba and his two sisters, Sabi and Jubba. The cubs were born on a Thabazimbi farm in April and moved to the zoo in July. The Johannesburg Zoo is trying to acquire more lion cubs so that it can breed a new generation of lions.

The cubs won't live with the zoo's adult lions, though — the full-grown lions "will definitely kill" the cubs, Agnes Maluleke, who is responsible for the management of the big cats at the zoo, told The Associated Press.

"We are so excited to have the lion cubs. It has been over five years since the zoo has had cubs and our adult lions are aging," Maluleke told AP. "These cubs of a new blood line will ensure the continuation of the species in our collection."

Check out the lion cubs playing in the video below. --Meghan DeMaria

August 20, 2014

Two adorable new additions to the Bronx Zoo were introduced to the world on Tuesday.

The rare male snow leopard cubs were born May 6, and are now on exhibit with their mother in the Himalayan Highlands area of the zoo. Their birth was something to celebrate, as snow leopards are sadly among the most endangered big cats in the world; just 7,500 are estimated to live in the wild, mainly in the mountains of Central Asia and parts of India, Russia, China, and Mongolia.

The Bronx Zoo has a long history of welcoming snow leopards, with the first one arriving in 1903. Since then, more than 70 snow leopards have been born at the zoo. Watch the brothers play and frolic around in the video below. --Catherine Garcia

August 17, 2014

The Houston Zoo has a new baby giraffe, which means we all get to enjoy footage of said baby giraffe ambling around on its skinny baby giraffe legs. Just look at this awkward little thing — relatively little thing, I suppose, since the baby is still six feet tall — acting like it has totally done this whole "walking" thing many times before. --Jon Terbush

August 12, 2014

August 12 is World Elephant Day, and celebrities and zoos are teaming up with activists to stop elephant poaching.

Ninety-six elephants are killed in Africa each day, and the Wildlife Conservation Society has created the #GoGrey movement to spread awareness about poaching. The society's 96 Elephants pledge is asking people not to buy or sell ivory, and celebrities ranging from Betty White to Alyssa Milano have joined in the fight.

Below are a few images to remind you why saving these elephants is so important. For more on how to take action against elephant poaching, visit the Wildlife Conservation Society's website. --Meghan DeMaria

July 25, 2014

He's two weeks old and happy to be alive: Jackson, the newest okapi born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, couldn't keep his excitement contained on Tuesday as he pranced around his new barn.

Born July 6, Jackson stays close to his mother, Ayana. He's still nursing, park officials said, but he's very interested in plants and watches his mother carefully when she eats. He is weighed daily so his keepers can make sure he's getting the right nutrition and in order to make a connection with staff. At birth, he weighed 57 pounds, and now tips the scales at 80.

The endangered okapi is difficult to find in its natural habitat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and scientists didn't even know the animal existed until 1900. While they do resemble zebras, okapi are actually the closest living relative to the giraffe. Their large ears are adorable, but also serve an important purpose; okapi can hear low-frequency sounds that humans can't.

Watch the video below to see adorable Jackson in action. --Catherine Garcia

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